Lesson 5
Techniques Used for Training Elephants

Two main techniques have been used for training elephants, which we may call respectively the tough and the gentle. The former method simply consists of setting an elephant to work and beating him until he does what is expected of him. Apart from any moral considerations this is a stupid method of training, for it produces a resentful animal who at a later stage may well turn man-killer. The gentle method requires more patience in the early stages, but produces a cheerful, good-tempered elephant who will give many years of loyal service.

The first essential in elephant training is to assign to the animal a single trainer who will be entirely responsible for the job. Elephants like to have one master just as dogs do, and are capable of a considerable degree of personal affection. There are even stories of half-trained elephant calves who have refused to feed and pined to death when by some unavoidable circumstance they have been deprived of their own trainer.

The most economical age to capture an elephant for training is between fifteen and twenty years, for it is then almost ready to undertake heavy work and can begin to earn its keep straight away. But animals of this age do not easily become subservient to man, and a very firm hand must be employed in the early stages. The captive elephant, still roped to a tree, plunges and screams every time a man approaches, and for several days will probably refuse all food through anger and fear. Sometimes a tame elephant is tethered nearby to give the wild one confidence and in most cases the captive gradually quietens down and begins to accept its food. The next stage is to get the elephant to the training establishment, an intricate business which is achieved with the aid of two tame elephants roped to the captive on either side.

When several elephants are being trained at one time it is customary for the new arrival to be placed between the stalls of two captives whose training is already well advanced. It is then left completely undisturbed with plenty of food and water so that it can absorb the atmosphere of its new home and see that nothing particularly alarming is happening to its companions. When it is eating normally its own training begins. The trainer stands in front of the elephant holding a long stick with a sharp metal point. Two assistants, mounted on tame elephants, control the captive from either side, while others rub their hands over his skin to the accompaniment of a monotonous and soothing chant. This is supposed to induce pleasurable sensations in the elephant, and its effects are reinforced by the use of endearing epithets, such as “ho! my son”, or “ho! my father”, or “my mother”, according to the age and sex of the captive. The elephant is not immediately susceptible to such blandishments, however, and usually lashes fiercely with its trunk in all directions. These movements are controlled by the trainer with the metal-pointed stick, and the trunk eventually becomes so sore that the elephant curls it up and seldom afterwards uses it for offensive purposes.

名人名言

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

— Pope

Solitary shots should be ignored, but when they come from several directions, it’s time to pay attention.

— Marshall Shelly

训练大象的技巧

调驯大象有两种主要方法,我们分别称之为“强制法”和“温柔法”。前一种方法仅仅是驱使大象干活,把它打到顺从为止。撇开道义方面的考虑,这种调驯法是愚蠢的,因为这种方法会使大象“怀恨在心”,在以后某个阶段它很可能变成伤人的动物。“温柔法”要求在调驯早期的各个阶段有更多的耐心,但这能调教出一头心甘情愿的、脾气温顺(good-tempered)的大象,忠实地为您服务好多年。

驯象中至关重要的是,为大象指派一个专门的、全面负责这项工作的驯象员。大象像狗一样,喜欢有一个专一的主人,而且能够对主人有一种相当程度的私人感情。居然有这类的故事:已经半驯服了的小象(calves),由于不得已的情况与驯象员分开后,竟拒绝吃食,以至消瘦而死亡。

把15至20岁的象捕来驯练最为经济,因那时象已几乎具有承担重活的能力,并能马上开始挣回它的饲养费。但这种年龄的象不容易顺从于人,因此在调驯的初期必须雇用相当成熟的老手。捕来(captive)且牢固地拴在树上的象,每当有人走近时就会猛烈前冲和发出尖叫,并且由于愤怒和恐惧而可能好几天拒绝吃食。有时把一头驯服的象拴在附近以取得野象的信任,大多数情况下,新捕的象会逐渐安静下来,并开始接受喂饲的食物。下一步骤是把这头象赶到调驯场所。这是一宗繁杂的(intricate)事情,要通过把两头已驯服的象拴在新捕获象的两侧来完成。

在同时要调驯几头象时,习惯上(customary)是把新来的一头安置在已调教得很好的两头象的象厩中间,然后给予足量的食物和水,使它完全不受惊扰,这样,新象可以适应新居的气氛并看到同伴们并未发生什么特别令人担惊受怕的事情。当新象饮食正常时,它们的调教即可开始了。调教人员手持一根有锋利金属尖头的长棒,站在象的前面。两个助手分别骑着驯服的象,从两侧控制新捕的象。这时其他的人伴随着单调(monotonous)、安抚的歌声用手抚摸大象的皮肤,据称这会使象产生(induce)愉快的感觉(sensations),其效果又通过用亲昵的称呼而得到加强,这种称呼根据象的年龄和性别而有所不同,例如“嗬!孩子”,或“嗬!老爷子!”或“老娘们儿”。然而大象不是立即会对这种诱哄产生感受的(susceptible),有时竟凶狠地(fiercely)上下左右地甩动鼻子。驯象人用带有金属尖头的棍棒控制这种举动,象鼻子最终会很痛,以至象把鼻子向上卷着,以后很少再用它来进攻了。

名人名言

人皆犯错,你能原谅别人,你就是圣人。

——蒲柏

不要理睬零星的枪声,但如果枪声来自几个方向,就该引起注意了。

——马歇尔·谢利